The Youth Party (YP) has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of disenfranchising its members from contesting in the Lagos State Local Government Area chairmanship and councillorship elections scheduled for July 24, 2021.
It described the situation as a continuous victimisation of the party.
In a statement issued and signed by the Trustee of the party, Francis Akinlotan, yesterday the party accused INEC of refusing to list the party on its official website as a registered political party, and also refusing to confirm the party's status to the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), despite several court judgments.
Akinlotan said the party commenced the process of registration in December 2016, "and INEC was against us from the outset. We had to get a court judgment to be considered for registration at all cost.
"Essentially, we had to get a judgment to get an application form. A process that should not take three months according to the law, took more than two years with dire consequences."
He said the party was eventually registered on August 14, 2018, just a few days before the commencement of primaries for the 2019 general election, despite a judgement of the Federal High Court delivered on October 20, 2017, directing INEC to register the party.
According to the statement, "The late registration of the party affected its ability to perform at the 2019 general election.
"Meanwhile, INEC was busy sponsoring the amendment of the constitution in a manner that would empower it to deregister the party immediately after the 2019 elections.
"INEC sponsored the amendment of Section 225a of the constitution, while delaying our registration. The said Section 225a was amended to require performance of parties at election, without giving any period to allow the parties to grow organically.
"Nonetheless, we fielded 11 candidates for House of Representatives and state Houses of Assembly all over the country in those elections. Immediately after the 2019 elections, INEC threatened to deregister our party.
"Consequently, we commenced a court action against INEC in January 2020 at the Federal High Court in Abuja. All other political parties that sued INEC were left off the deregistration list, as the commission cited pending litigation, but not with the Youth Party."
Akinlotan accused INEC of continuously breaching the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of association of members of the party.
"Currently, the LASIEC is about to conduct local government elections in the state and our party wishes to field candidates and participate in the election.
"However, INEC has refused to confirm the status of our party to LASIEC despite the judgments of courts. Thus, the Youth Party and its members are being denied the right to freely participate in the upcoming local government elections," he stated.